No. 1 DeMatha starts fast, beats No. 6 St. John’s (D.C.) to win fifth straight

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday night, the young DeMatha Catholic Stags faced its first true road game against No. 6 St. John’s after playing its first four games in the confines of Brendan Looney ’99 Convocation Center. Considering where the Stags stand at this point in the season, the hostile environment was the perfect test to stack up with its conference rival. The energy of the raucous St. John’s crowd, as well as a feeling of establishing themselves early, was all No. 1 DeMatha needed to pick up a key win in the uber competitive WCAC, 69-51.

“This was the first time this team has played outside of DeMatha,” DeMatha coach Mike Jones said. “We just wanted to make sure we tried as much as we could to either feed off the energy of the crowd or tune the crowd out.”

DeMatha (5-0, 1-0 WCAC), which won its fifth straight, was led by Hunter Dickinson (16 points), Jahmir Young (15 points) and Justin Moore (12 points). The Cadets (4-3, 1-1 WCAC), meanwhile, were led by Casey Morsell and Richard Njouke, who scored nine points points apiece.

St. John’s led for a measly 13 seconds before DeMatha reeled off 14 unanswered points and took a lead that was never threatened. Dickinson had the highlight of the run when he spun off Njoku in the post, who was attempting to take a charge, but got a no-call instead, and finished with a two-hand dunk. The Stags evening was filled with incredible ball movement and a just-as-impressive defensive effort; particularly from Hunter Dickinson, who was getting double-teamed all night, but routinely found open shooters and diving cutters.

“I knew the double teams were going to come the first time I caught the ball,” Dickinson said. “I know they were going to try to take me out of the game so I just tried to help out my teammates.”

The gameplan of keeping the Cadets guards out of the lane or into heavily-contested shots at the rim worked to a tee, DeMatha frustrated Morsell and Tre Woods into a rough outing. The Stags also out-hustled the Cadets and proved to be the more physical team, offensively and defensively. The Stags also had production from their bench, which is a nice addition for Jones this season since last year’s team didn’t have a bench we’re used to seeing from DeMatha.

“When our first five gets tired, we don’t have to worry about rushing back on the court,” Moore said. “We got guys ready to come off the bench and execute.”

Early in the second half, St. John’s cut the DeMatha lead to as close to nine points when Njoku tipped in a missed shot that made the score 36-27. The Stags immediately responded with their own 7-0 run capped by Timberlake put-back.

During the final frame, the Stags opened up a 20-point lead, their biggest lead of the evening. Moore, showing off newfound confidence in his surgically repaired knee, knifed into the lane and put a St. John’s defender in the spin cycle on the way to his final bucket of the night. The game was punctuated by a Devin Richmond dunk, which finalized the 18-point win.